Thursday, December 09, 2010

A Unique Experiment By Moira Richards

On the night of Friday 9 March 2001, the Colombian city, Bogota, tried a unique experiment. The mayor, Antanas Mockus asked all the men to stay at home for the evening, and he invited the women to enjoy a night out on the town.

When he first suggested the idea of banning the city's men from the streets for a night, there was much discussion about it. Not least on its legality - and of course on the extent that it might violate the constitutional rights of the men.

In the end the male curfew was not compulsory, but the men were asked to stay home voluntarily. Many, although of course not all, complied with Mockus' request and they minded the kids whilst their womenfolk went out.

News reports quote the following crime statistics for Bogota:

40% of the men do not 'allow' their wives to go out alone at night.

85% of alcohol-related traffic accidents are caused by men.

88% of violent deaths are committed by men.

90% of the people arrested, are men.

40% of the women admit to being a victim of domestic abuse.

The mayor had conceived the idea of the curfew as a way to highlight the above statistics, to draw attention to men's role in the perpetuation of domestic and community violence, and to prove that crime would be less on a night of male curfew. He hoped that the evening would be a time for serious reflection on the gendered nature of crime in the city.

And the crime rate was indeed significantly lower in Bogota on Friday night, the 9th of March, and the mayor declared the experiment a success.

I've read a few news reports on the 'net that covered the story. In them, mayor Antanas Mockus was described variously as 'eccentric', 'goofy', 'clowning idiot', 'crazy philosopher', and the story was also featured on a 'legal humour' website.

Men of Bogota were quoted as saying;

“We own the street”

“What about a female curfew?”

“The city can only take one night of this”

“We have high unemployment, we have social unrest”

“We have a lot more important problems to worry about here”

The mayor declared the night dedicated to educating 'men, who have much to learn about peaceful attitudes' a success. Me, I weep.

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tiah said...

Isn't that how most discussions go? An issue is brought up, and then the issue is turned to the 'more important' contest or 'how about MY groups rights' - which are usually from the group who has been benefiting from the repression of others.

Damaria Senne said...

You're very right, Tiah. The sad thing is that people who do this ignore that their own rights don't have to be taken/compromised in order to make sure that other people enjoy their full rights.

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